Sunday, May 31, 2009

my name

did you know that oftentimes when i introduce myself to someone they respond with "nice to meet you amber" because they thought that when i said "hi, i'm amberli" that i really said "hi, i'm Amber Lee" and that Lee is actually my last name? in fact, on more then one occassion when i've met someone in person who has previously heard my name they will say, "oh i thought you were asian because your name is Amber Lee" and then i have to explain that my name isn't Amber Lee, it's amberli, all one word, just my first name. and when i'm on the phone making an appointment or something and i have to spell my name out because no one ever understands what i'm saying i usually just end up saying "it's amber with an l-i" which generally makes even less sense to them and i end up receiving a confirmation notice in the mail addressed to amterly or anmerlee or annmarie, or what have you.

speaking of ann marie, once i introduced myself as amberli and the lady responded "it's nice to meet you ann marie" then turned to her coworker and said "this is ann marie" to which her coworker responded "it's nice to meet you ann marie" and after about ten ann maries i felt too sheepish to correct them so i just became ann marie for the day. and now i have to remember to look if ever i'm walking down centre street and someone says "hi ann marie" just in case they are talking to me. i could tell this same story just substituting "ann marie" with "emily."

"hi, i'm amberli."
"nice to meet you emily."
it's all very confusing.

not to mention the pronunciation. people tend to stress the "li" because that's the different part of my name. am-ber-LI. i don't mind it, whatever floats your boat. i'll answer to most anything. although when people really struggle and i can tell they feel weird saying my name because they aren't sure how to pronounce it i tell them it "AM-berli" like "KIM-berly." this usually helps, although it also occassionally results that someone thinks my name is kimberly from then on. oh well, add it to my multiple personalities.

it's a novelty to meet someone with my name, although i've never met anyone who spells it the same as i do and no matter what it always catches me off guard since i am so un-used to anyone having my name. one year at summer camp i saw a sign above a girl's bed that said "amberleigh" and i screamed with joy. i spent the week seeking out amberleigh and had a very happy meeting when i told her "i'm amberli." it was cheer camp, so i'm sure we jumped up and down and clapped and shouted "go amberli/leigh." we chatted and were insta-friends although i had to be honest with her "amberleigh, you're making it so difficult for yourself with the l-e-i-g-h spelling! i have a hard enough time with the l-i spelling." we comiserated. we bonded.

then one day i was shocked to hear that "amberli will be saying the closing prayer" from the pulpit my first day in a new ward. "i am?" i thought. but then when the time came for the closing prayer amberly stood up to pray and i realized that amberly was saying the closing prayer, not amberli. having amberly in my ward was my weirdest encounter with another amberli/ly/leigh because our paths crossed on a regular basis and i was always caught off guard when someone said amberly and i thought they were saying amberli. and the -ly spelling is just weird to me. i think it makes it sound like an adverb. like happily, sadly, loudly, amberly. see what i mean? she ate the ice cream cone very amberly. or better yet, the amber waves of grain waved very amberly.

then one day i was walking through the byu bookstore and this employee shouted across the store "amberli, where did you stack those order forms?" sheesh, i don't know! i don't even work here! but then i realized he was talking to amberlee, not amberli. i watched the conversation for a while then finally walked up to amberlee and said "hi amberlee, i'm amberli." it was once again insta-friendship.

i was supposed to be an amberlin. my sister named me or at least came up with amber part. but all my siblings names end with "n" so my parents thought "amberlin" would work but then they realized they weren't a fan of the lin addition and dropped the "n" all together which was a good thing because i went to junior high with an amberlin and let me tell you, i'm not an amberlin. although i knew an amberlin in college and she would have made me proud to be an amberlin. but in the end, i'm so an amberli.

i'll spare you a long dialogue on the nicknames although i will say that most of them are deviations of amberli - am, ames, amby, ber, li, lili, etc. although now that i think about it, many of the nicknames are not deviations of amberli. continuing with the asian theme, my mom calls me "suki" (pronounced soo-kee) which is actually the short version of the real nickname "suki-ba-duki." it's a long story...

my dad was the first to start the "berli" series back when i was in high school. over the years this has morphed into berliness, ber, berber, berls, etc. again, i often find that i must clarify that it's "berli" not "burly" which is a totally different beast entirely. i love berli though and all it's variations. however on a cold winter's day i often find myself turning to an unsuspecting person suffering from the cold after they mutter under their breath "burrrrr." more than once i've turned and said, "yeah?" as if they had said "berrrrr?" the first time this happened was on my mission. i hadn't heard anyone say my name and especially not my nickname for over a year since when you're a missionary you go by "sister (insert last name here)." i had been sister roper for a long long time and had begun to forget that i ever had another name when one day another missionary, suffering from the cold, said "BUR!" and instinctively i turned to him and yelled "WHAT?" it was very funny.

i'll also spare you the highly symbolic and deeply meaningful tale of solidifiying my identity when at the age of eight i moved back to california from idaho and started introducing myself as amberli although until then i had gone by amber. at eight years of age i became amberli and have never looked back.

hm, so i didn't really mean to make this such a long post, but there you have it.

but you can call me ber or berli or ann marie or whatever


familia Bybaran said...

Yeah. I. hear. you.

I have always thought that your name was a perfectly normal and beautiful name. It's shocking to hear that people have a problem with it. I think it builds character.

An Ordinary Mom said...

This post rocks! Thoroughly entertaining! (I love learning more about you.)

And I have always ADORED your name, ever since I met Nern. (And back when he and I first met, he was writing a birthday card for your older sister and I almost had him convinced that he had spelled her name wrong. Just thought I would throw that out there :) !!)

Bonnie said...

Such a funny post. I am personally a fan of 'Berli', and just so you know -I don't think 'Burly' when I say it. I have a similar problem when I call people and say "Hi, This is Bonnie Donigan." I one time had someone call back looking for Bonnie Dawn. (As in "Hi, this is Bonnie Dawn, again - say it outloud. It makes sense.) I also have to avoid a very tempting phrase when calling someone for the second time - "This is Bonnie Donigan again."

You're too funny! Thanks for sharing.

MaryClaire said...

i am so with you on it all. in fact, i remember writing a similar paper on my name for some english class in college. this made me want to dig it out. at this point half the people in my life call me maryclaire and half of them call me claire. some of those people don't know that i go by both or that the other name even exits, so it really gets confusing when i'm at a doctor's office or something and i totally forget what they have my name as on the records there.

it's a good thing that we both love our interesting and different and confusing names or it would all just be very annoying. but, instead, we happily put up with it and laugh.

-maryclaire, claire, mc, moose, really anything but mary

Allison said...

I've always thought your name fit you perfectly. You've got the presence to pull off a distinctive name.

Funny story about Mehrsa's name--I remember the first time we met (at some sort of Y group something or other) and thinking, "Did she say Marissa? It's Marissa but she says it differently? Is she pronouncing her own name wrong?" Kind of an ignorant/arrogant assumption on my part, I admit. It wasn't until I saw her name written that all came together.

cori said...

amberli i loved this! i love your name and your guts! i like the i in your name. the i at the end is seriously like an exclamation point to a very big smile!

i had no clue there were so many amberli's in the world. you are my favorite for sure.

Annie Ditto said...

I remember the first time I heard someone call you Amber...I was shocked and thought THAT'S NOT HER NAME! I love AMBERLI and I don't think I have ever said it wrong :)

Seriously forget the Social Work stuff and be a writer! You are so good! OOORRR you could WRITE about some Social Work topic and make your millions!! GOOD LUCK :) hee hee

Jhordan said...

This post is great and I love Bonnie Dawn again's comment too.

I've said it wrong plenty of times. I remember Nadia coaching me on the emphasis back in the day. I was an amberLI offender. I also remember being shocked the first time I heard Derek call you Amber! haahah. I don't know why - it's totally natural, like Yord is to Jhordan.

Gramma Dani said...

Okay, so I'm the guilty one! You'd think I would name my kids normal names, after being called everything that starts with a "D" all my life - does that make me the "D-word"??? And speaking of sounding Asian... what about your nickname, Suki??? Ted said we should apologize for causing you emotional stress, ie. bipolar, multiple personality, schizo... whatever. I still love your name, and I love it when you run into someone with the same/similar name!

Keleigh, Cecilia and Family said...

i so understand... and why is it now that no one realizes that my name is a song... even people that are older than i am. maybe simon and garfunkel never made it to texas. even though it should have, in my mind. and you are roper to me... but sometimes amberli. :) TVB